We all know that the French can breed and export a decent National Hunt prospect. A brief look at the Antepost markets for the Cheltenham Festival will show you the vast influence that French recruits have on the Jumps game. In British terms, that would look to be the main influence that the French have on Racing across the globe, but there are many more aspects to it than just Juvenile hurdlers. France has exported some of the leading horses to various countries around the globe for many years and the end of the 2021 season has shown that trend is likely to continue in 2022. In this brief series I will try to highlight some horses who have been sold in the closed season to pursue their careers overseas. We will start with 2 horses who have who have headed East this winter.
Dubawi x Giofra (Dansili)
Trainer: A Bin Hamash
Having cost €600,000 at the Arqana Sales, big things were expected of this son of Falmouth Stakes winner Giofra. Despite a promising start, he failed to progress and a record of 1 win from 5 starts in France for Andre Fabre wasn’t enough to keep this son of Dubawi in the Godolphin Blue. Having made a decent start to his career when 5th and 2nd in a pair of all-weather maidens in November 2020, he looked likely to improve as he developed into his 3-year-old career. He clearly had his issues as he did not reappear until finishing 4th in a Paris Longchamp maiden in September 2021, an absence of 290-days during which time he was gelded. It took him a further 2 starts to get his head in front, with the switch to front running tactics proving the key when he won a maiden at Fontainebleau in November. Although the 3rd placed horse has won since, the time was fairly average for the course and it was clearly felt that he wasn’t going to reach the top level in France and he was sold.
The switch to the UAE could suit based on his pedigree. His dam was placed in the Dubai Duty Free and his full-brother, Al Battar, won at Meydan in 2020. Whilst on the face of it he may appear to be just another expensive cast off from the boys in blue, it is easy to forget that he has only made 5 starts and missed a considerable period of time in his classic year. The switch to front running tactics seemed to help him settle and brought out a much improved performance on his final start, so it is highly likely his new connections may employ the same method, especially if he is tried on the Dirt in the UAE. He has been given a mark of 84, which certainly looks workable, especially considering his pedigree.
Wootton Bassett x Mezzo Mezzo (Mount Nelson)
Trainer: Caspar Fownes
A winner on debut, 2nd in the Group 1 Prix Morny, last seen finishing 2nd to Breeders Cup winner Modern Games in the Tattersalls Stakes, it is a surprise to see Trident leave Andre Fabre. The lure of the big money offer from Hong Kong has seen this son of Wootton Bassett move east to be trained by Casper Fownes. Jamie Piggott brokered the deal and he told the Racing Post that he was tasked with finding a horse for the Hong Kong Derby and this Colt fitted the bill.
A €140,000 yearling purchase at Arqana in 2020, he repaid that investment during his brief racing career with Andre Fabre and as the sale price is rumoured to be a 7 figure sum, Coolmore have been well compensated for their son of Wootton Bassett. He has all the attributes needed to succeed in Hong Kong, strong stamina and a decent turn-of-foot, running 11s furlongs on 2 occasions at Deauville last summer. His 2nd placed finish to Modern Games at Newmarket in September reads very well in hindsight, as does his 2nd placed finish in the Prix Morny. The fastest ground and the tight bends of Sha Tin should bring out further improvement given how strongly he travels and although he has to pass through quarantine and it may be next season before he truly finds his feet in Hong Kong, the wait should be worth it.